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Father with lung disease says he should not be fined for taking son out of school

PUBLISHED: 07:20 04 October 2020

Single father, Lee Edmondson, was threatened with a fine when he took his son out of Northgate High School in Dereham after an increase of coronavirus cases in the county. Picture: Google/Lee Edmundson

Single father, Lee Edmondson, was threatened with a fine when he took his son out of Northgate High School in Dereham after an increase of coronavirus cases in the county. Picture: Google/Lee Edmundson

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A worried father with lung disease says he should not be faced with a fine for taking his child out of school amid fears over catching coronavirus.

Northgate High School in Dereham. Picture: Google StreetViewNorthgate High School in Dereham. Picture: Google StreetView

Former aircraft technician Lee Edmondson was shielding for three months during the height of the pandemic due to having chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a condition that causes breathing difficulties.

Amid concerns over rising cases nationally, Mr Edmondson was worried his 14-year-old son would bring the virus home with him but has been warned he may face a fine if he does not send him to school.

He said: “My son is a straight A student taking triple science and he was told he could not receive coursework at home and his absences would not be authorised, even after I showed them my NHS letter.

“My doctor has already told me that if I get the virus, my chances of surviving are very slim. My son is scared he will bring the virus home and kill his dad.

“What was the purpose of a national lockdown to protect the vulnerable if schools wont be flexible or compromise?”

After an increase recently, latest figures show Breckland’s coronavirus rate per 100,000 people was 7.9 in the seven days to September 28, compared to 10.7 the week before.

At the start of September the government made it clear that it is compulsory for all children to go back to school except where local lockdowns are in place or in exceptional circumstances, and schools minister Nick Gibb said fines should be used as a “last resort”.

But Mr Edmonson said he wanted to show there were issues with those rules.

A spokesperson on behalf of Northgate High School, where Mr Edmonson’s son attends, and the Unity Education Trust, which runs the school, said: “At Northgate High School, student safety and wellbeing is our top priority, and we have done everything we can to ensure the safety of our students and staff throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“National government guidance states that it is safe for children with vulnerable family members to attend school and we want to reassure every parent that we’re closely following these guidelines to keep our children and their families safe.”

They said they understood it was a worrying time for parents.


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